Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, you just need chocolate cake. The German and American concepts of ‘cake’ differ pretty radically – to the extent that getting unsweetened baking chocolate in a store is nigh on impossible. I made a few adjustments, but if you have access to goods available in American grocery stores, you can follow the instructions exactly. I’ll detail my adjustments below. The ingredients in parentheses are metric for our European friends.

2 c flour (275 g)
2 c granulated sugar (420 g minus 8 EL)
1/4 tsp (Teelöffel) salt
4 oz unsweetened cacao chips (110 g)
1 c water (250 ml)
1/2 c butter (110 g)
1 c sour cream, at room temperature (200 g)
1 tsp (Teelöffel) vanilla extract
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp baking soda (Natriumbikarbonat)
2 beaten eggs

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
2 c confectioners’ sugar (300 g minus 8 EL)
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c milk (85 ml)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (110 g)
1/3 c melted butter (75 ml)

Grease or line two 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In mixer, combine flour, sugar and salt. Melt chocolate with butter and water (it will look gross). Add melted chocolate mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly. Add sour cream, vanilla extract, baking soda and eggs and mix well for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin!

Pour batter into pans and bake until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean. Bake for 30 minutes. If using round pans, cool on rack 10 minutes and unmold cake to cake rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting: In mixer, combine confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and milk. Melt the unsweetened chocolate and add to confectioners’ sugar mixture. Slowly add melted butter and beat to spreading consistency. Frosting will be thin at first, but will stiffen upon standing as the melted ingredients cool. Ice cake using about 1/2 cup of icing between layers.

My Adjustments

I had to use semisweet baking chocolate instead of the unsweetened for which the recipe calls. It was mostly a language barrier – the package said ‘zartbitter,’ so I misinterpreted. I decided to check it by taking a nibble before I dove headlong into the baking process and thank goodness I did! I gnawed off what tasted like chocolate chips and my heart sank. Luckily, a Google search for ‘ingredient substitutions’ turned up several nice sites that showed me how to compensate. The conversion I used was to remove 2 T of sugar for every 1 2/3 oz of sweet baking chocolate used. For the cake, I ended up removing 7 T of granulated sugar.

For the frosting, I was leery of taking out sugar since it was powdered and I didn’t want to mess up the texture. I’ve had enough experience screwing up frostings. This time, we adjusted by putting 1 T of unsweetened cocoa in with the dry ingredients. This didn’t work quite as well as the adjustment with the cake did, but the frosting is edible.

End-of-the-Month Beans and Rice

When funds dwindle, I rate our favorite recipes in order of how much the ingredients cost. This is a recent discovery that will come in very handy for lean months.

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 T hot curry powder
1/2 lb smoked sausage, sliced thin
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 T white wine vinegar

Heat oil and sauté onion and garlic over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Add curry and stir constantly for 30 seconds to keep powder from burning, then add sliced sausage. After sausage is lightly browned, add broth and beans. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until beans are heated through. Take pan off heat and stir in vinegar. Serve over hot rice.

Can someone please explain to me again why gun control is not a good idea?

I read this story on ISCABBS this morning and couldn’t help but wonder how the anti-gun control advocates can justify letting the Freak of the Week (such as this prize specimen) keep a firearm and not tell anyone about it.

Maybe a right-winger’s response to this kind of incident would be something like “well, sure, there are the occasional nut-jobs, but this guy’s looniness should not be allowed to infringe on my sacred gun-toting rights.” But then I have to ask:

Should the deciding factor in the question of whether an individual be allowed to possess a firearm really be “how often has this person shot at innocent people (whether or not they are public safety workers)”?

Put another way: we do we wait for a (near-)tragedy before taking someone’s guns away?